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WinME System Tweaking Guide

WinME System Tweaking Guide
By: Cameron Wilmot | Guides | Posted: Jul 12, 2001 4:00 am




Microsoft WindowsME (Millennium) is based on just about the exact same kernel as Microsoft Windows98. Although by just taking a short venture around WinME there are noticeable changes compared to Windows98, enough to warrant a dedicated WinME System Tweaking Guide here at TweakTown... Many of the options we are about to recommend in this guide will be similar to the options recommended in our Windows9x System Tweaking Guide because many of the options in Win9x apply to WinME. it's good to remember that Microsoft have shipped WinME with nice (speedy) settings ideal for the Home Users. In some cases it may be better to leave certain options to default. Anyway, without further ado... let's begin!


Windows Startup


Solution 1: To keep your system durable at all times it is most important that you have as less programs (or services) running at any one time. For this step you'll need to do a bit of Registry Editing, its really simple. First of all we will need to backup the intended area of the system registry we intend to work on. The part we will be mod'ing is HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun. This part of the registry tells Windows what programs to launch at startup. There are many programs included with WindowsME (and also other external programs, such as virus scanners) that do not be required to run. As many of these programs you can disable the better. First lets open Regedit, to do this click Start, Run, type regedit and press enter. Now you'll need to browse through the various folders to you reach --> HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun. Before we start removing settings, we'll need to backup --> HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun, to do this highlight Run and click Registry (on the menu), Export Registry File, then make sure ONLY under export range ONLY Selected branch is deleted. Save this file to a save place in case you need to restore this part of the registry later. For a start try removing everything in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun so that only the programs listed in the below picture are the same as yours...



If you are game, you can in fact delete everything from --> HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun and have nothing at all running at boot. Although this is not a good idea as you will not be able to Ctrl, Alt, Del programs. Virus scanners are a BIG system performance hit... Try to disable them if you are sure you have no virus problems. As an added bonus you can also try removing all the programs from RunOnce, RunOnceEx, RunServices and RunServicesOnce. ALSO - Remember to remove unneeded programs from the following registry key --> HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun. Once you reboot and everything at system boot is running fine you are all set. If you are having problems, all you have to do is double click on the registry file we backed up earlier in this guide...


Solution 2: If you don't like using the Windows Registry there is a much easier way to remove programs (and services) which load on start-up. MSCONFIG... As suggested by various people in our forum. To load MSCONFIG, click Start --> Run --> type MSCONFIG and press enter --> click Startup tab and you can choose which programs you do and don't want to load at boot. This method is much easier (and *better*) then solution 1 because it gives you a option of restoring this programs to load at boot at a later time...


Unnecessary Files


After the initial installation of WinME there are many files that are unnecessary stored on your hard drive and can be safely deleted. The type of file extensions I'm talking about here are, *.bak, *.tmp, *.old etc... you'll mostly notice these types of files in your C:


oot dir, these can be deleted at anytime but have a habit of recurring. You may wish to do a complete search of your system by clicking Start, Search, For files or folders, this way you can search your whole hard drive for these unnecessary files. Once you have deleted these files, you can empty your Recycle Bin by right click on the recycle bin icon and clicking Empty Recycle Bin. Although it should be mentioned, if these types of files keep reoccurring after each reboot they will probably be need and really not worth deleting them as Windows will just have to keep restoring these file types. Another option I like to disable is disabling delete confirmation dialog, what this does is stop prompting you when you delete a file, instead the file will be directly sent to the recycle bin without you agreeing. To disable this prompt, right click on recycle bin and click properties then untick Display delete confirmation dialog and then click OK. Just another way to remove all those useless Windows prompts...


System Boot Options


There are three files in your root directory that can be changed for faster boot time. Those files are CONFIG.SYS, AUTOEXEC.BAT and MSDOS.SYS. Before we start editing these files, make a BACKUP of each file and make sure they are not set as read-only. But err MSDOS.SYS doesn't exist? Yeah it does, it will always be in any Win9x OS. To obtain access to MSDOS.SYS you'll need to disable "hide protected operating system files" in Windows Explorer. To do this, load Windows Explorer click Tools --> Folder Options --> click View tab and untick hide protected operating system files. Now that has been done, add the following line to CONFIG.SYS:




While CONFIG.SYS is still open make sure there are no other lines, eg click on text editor you use to edit CONFIG.SYS and use the back space key to remove any unneeded lines, this lowers boot times and gives your system a bit more strength...


The original AUTOEXEC.BAT file looks something like this:




SET winbootdir=C:WINDOWS












Remove everything from AUTOEXEC.BAT and copy and paste the exact following:




SET winbootdir=C:WINDOWS






Again, this will decrease boot times slightly (only hundredths of seconds). If you end up having boot problems replace AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS with the original versions you backed up.


Editing the MSDOS.SYS file can be a little risky, below is the _default_ MSDOS.SYS config file...






















(rest is not needed)


The [Paths] section of MSDOS.SYS controls the basically the boot location of Windows, nothing needs to be changed, upon installation of WinME, WinME changes all path settings accordingly.


In the [Options] section of MSDOS.SYS we can change a couple things depending on your system environment. Depending on if your system is dual booting your BootMulti=1 may be different, don't change it if it is, it would be set like that for a reason. WinME no longer uses MSDOS Scandisk, it now uses Windows Scandisk on improper shutdowns. If you don't want Windows to scan your hard drive after a *improper* shut down change the following line, AutoScan=1 to AutoScan=0.


it's important to remember, TweakUI ( has a feature dedicated to tuning MSDOS.SYS for better boot times and system performance. If you don't feel confident editing MSDOS.SYS with notepad, I'd recommend you using TweakUI instead!


IE History & Cache


Another way to free up a little bit of extra space is too delete Internet Explorer (IE) history and cache. Its goes without saying that history, if just a bunch of 'files' that are kept to record which websites are visited, these can be removed by loading Internet Explorer, clicking Tools, Internet Options and Clear History.... Tsk Tsk you porn lovers... :)


Internet Explorer cache is stored on the users hard drive for quicker access to loading websites, say for example a website you visit you regularly has a header logo, the computer saves this image on your hard drive so next time you visit that page the header image doesn't have to load again thus making the page overall quick to load... To remove cache, load Internet Explorer and click Tools, Internet Options..., Delete Files..., click Delete all offline content and then click ok.


Note: This option will result in slower loading websites (at first) because previous data in the cache has to re-downloaded and stored again. Removing IE history and cache before a system defragment will benefit you greatly and make overall defragmentation time quicker.


Virtual Memory


here's what Microsoft have to say about Virtual Memory:


Windows uses a dynamic virtual memory manager to handle swap file duties. In order to provide more memory to applications than is physically present in the computer in the form of RAM, Windows uses hard disk space to simulate RAM. The amount of RAM in the computer plus the size of the paging file (also known as the swap file) equals the total physical memory, or virtual memory, size. Windows uses a dynamic paging file that remains at a size of 0K until it is needed. The paging file can grow to use all the available space on the hard disk if it is necessary. This is the default setting for the paging file. You should use this setting if possible.


Virtual Memory would have to be one of the most important Windows options to tweak for optimal performance. Although at the same time it can make or brake a system in terms of compatibility and stability. Many people have their own opinions on Virtual Memory. People with system memory greater then 256mb, VM (Virtual Memory) is hardly needed as Windows will hardly even use that much memory as it is. I'd suggest to people with 128mb RAM they use 64mb Minimum and Maximum VM and people with 64MB RAM use 32mb Minimum and Maximum VM and so on. Whatever you do, DO NOT disable Virtual Memory (heh, unless you have a gig of RAM). To change Virtual Memory settings, click Start, Settings, Control Panel, System, then click the Performance tab then Virtual Memory, you'll be greeted with a screen similar to the one below...


The advantage of setting your Maximum and Minimum VM to the same value will mean Windows spends less time changing VM cache sizes. Setting VM up really high will make games and CAD programs sluggish... Although there is an advantage of setting the Maximum VM to 300mb... you'll never have to worry about running low on VM.


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